Biden Hunter trial: Jury resumes deliberations in federal gun case

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Jurors will resume deliberations Tuesday in the criminal case against President Joe Biden’s son for a gun that Hunter Biden purchased in 2018 when prosecutors said he was in the throes of a crack addiction.

Jurors deliberated for less than an hour before leaving the Delaware federal courthouse Monday afternoon. They wonder if Hunter Biden is guilty of three crimes in the case opposing the young Biden to his father’s Department of Justice, in the middle of the president’s re-election campaign.

Hunter Biden arrives at federal court with his wife, Melissa Cohen Biden, Monday, June 10, 2024, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Prosecutors have spent the past week using testimony from his ex-wife and his former girlfriendsphotos of Hunter Biden with drug paraphernalia and other sordid evidence to prove he lied when he checked “no” on the gun store’s form that asked if he was “a illegal or dependent user of drugs.

“He knew he was using drugs. That’s what the evidence shows. And he knew he was a drug addict. That’s what the evidence shows,” prosecutor Leo Wise told jurors in his closing argument Monday.

Biden Hunter’s struggles with substance abuse following the death of his brother Beau in 2015 are well documented. But the defense argued he didn’t consider himself an “addict” when he bought the gun and checked “no” on the form that asked if he was an “illegal user.” of drugs or if he was addicted to them.

Biden Hunter’s lawyers sought to demonstrate that he was trying to change his life at the time of purchasing the gun, after completing a rehabilitation program in late August 2018. The defense called three witnesses, including Naomi, the hunter’s daughterwho told the juniors that his father seemed to be improving in the weeks before purchasing the gun.

And the defense told jurors that no one actually saw Hunter Biden use drugs during the 11 days he had the gun before Beau’s widow, Hallie, found it in Hunter’s truck and threw it away in a trash can. Defense attorney Abbe Lowell suggested prosecutors presented circumstantial evidence the way a magician might present a card trick, trying to get jurors to focus on one hand and ignore the other.

“With my dying breath in this case, I seek the only verdict that will hold prosecutors to what the law requires of them” — a verdict of not guilty, Lowell said in his final address to jurors.

But prosecutors showed jurors text messages sent in the days after the gun purchase in which Hunter Biden told Hallie he was waiting for a drug dealer and that he was smoking crack. Hallie and Hunter briefly dated after Beau’s death. Prosecutors also said they found cocaine residue on the pouch Hallie put the gun in before throwing it in a trash can outside an upscale grocery store.

Hunter Biden, right, leaves federal court, Monday, June 10, 2024, in Wilmington, Del.  (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Hunter Biden, right, leaves federal court, Monday, June 10, 2024, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

First lady Jill Biden, the president’s brother James and other family members watched from the front row of the courtroom as the defense completed its case Monday without calling Hunter Biden to the witness stand. The first lady has been in court almost every day since the trial began last week.

Before the case went to the jury, the prosecutor urged jurors to focus on the “overwhelming” evidence against Hunter Biden and not pay attention to members of the president’s family sitting in the courtroom.

“None of this constitutes evidence,” Wise said, holding out his hand and ordering the jury to look into the gallery. “People sitting in the gallery are not evidence.”

The defense attempted to pierce the case by pressing prosecution witnesses on their memories of certain events. Biden’s lawyer Hunter told jurors they should consider the testimony of Hallie and another ex-girlfriend “with great care and caution,” noting their immunity deals with prosecutors in exchange for their testimony.

The debates took place in the president’s home statewhere Hunter Biden grew up and where the family runs deep. Joe Biden has passed 36 years as a senator from Delaware, traveling daily to Washington, and Beau Biden was the state’s attorney general.

Hunter Biden did not testify, but jurors heard his voice repeatedly when prosecutors played audio excerpts from his 2021 memoir “Beautiful Things,” in which he talks about hitting rock bottom after the death of Beau and falling into drugs and alcohol before his eventual sobriety in 2019.

Hunter Biden had hoped last year to resolve a long-running federal investigation into his business dealings in a deal with prosecutors that would have avoided the spectacle of a trial so close to the 2024 election. Under the terms of the deal , he reportedly pleaded guilty to tax crimes and avoided prosecution in the gun case if he stayed out of trouble for two years.

But the deal collapsed after Trump-appointed District Judge Maryellen Noreika questioned unusual aspects of the proposed deal, and lawyers were unable to resolve the issue.

Attorney General Merrick Garland then named lead investigator David Weiss, the U.S. attorney for Delaware, as special advisor last Augustand a month later, Hunter Biden was indicted.

Hunter Biden said he was charged because the Justice Department bowed to pressure from Republicans who claimed the Democratic president’s son was getting special treatment.

Under the agreement, prosecutors would have recommended two years of probation. In the gun case, all three counts carry up to 25 years in prison, although the sentence will ultimately be up to the judge and it’s clear whether she would put him behind bars if convicted guilty.


Richer reported from Washington. Associated Press journalists Mike Catalini and Matt Slocum in Wilmington and Colleen Long in Washington contributed to this report.

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